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Archive for the 'Cantonese Holidays' Category

元宵節: The Chinese Lantern Festival in Hong Kong

The Chinese Lantern Festivals that take place in Hong Kong each year are quite a sight, and offer an exhilarating experience! Traditionally based on many Chinese legends and stories, this holiday is a time to be with loved ones, admire beautiful Chinese lanterns, and maybe even find or reunite with your true love.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the Hong Kong Spring Lantern Festival, from its traditional meaning to modern-day celebrations.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

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1. What is the Chinese Lantern Festival in Hong Kong?

In Chinese culture, the Lantern Festival, or 元宵節 (jyun4 siu1 zit3), is considered a time of passion and romance. This holiday also goes by the name of “Chinese Valentine’s Day.”

This is because, in ancient times, young girls were not allowed to go out except during the Lantern Festival on this day. So unmarried men and women took this opportunity to meet, and lovers to reunite.

However, this holiday isn’t as big in Hong Kong as it is in mainland China. In fact, people in Hong Kong don’t have much passion for the Lantern Festival. This is partially because the Lantern Festival isn’t a public holiday. Besides, Hong Kong was under British colonial rule for almost one hundred years, and they’ve gotten used to Valentine’s Day already.

Despite this, during the Lantern Festival, Hong Kong families will still get together and eat dumplings.

2. Chinese Lantern Festival Dates

Paper Lanterns For the Spring Lantern Festival in Hong Kong

The Lantern Festival is celebrated each year on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar calendar, or 正月十五 (zing1 jyut6 sap6 ng5) in Cantonese. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

  • 2020: February 8
  • 2021: February 26
  • 2022: February 15
  • 2023: February 5
  • 2024: February 24
  • 2025: February 12
  • 2026: March 3
  • 2027: February 20
  • 2028: February 9
  • 2029: February 27

3. How is Chinese Valentine’s Day Celebrated?

Chinese Man Hanging a Spring Lantern Festival Lantern with Grandson

There are many colorful and exciting festivities for the Lantern Festival in Hong Kong, though the most important thing is for families and loved ones to be with each other.

During the Chinese Lantern Festival, Hong Kong locals admire beautiful lanterns. A grand Lantern Carnival is held in Hong Kong every year, offering many programs including lantern displays, ethnic dance, traditional stage arts, and even a fireworks show. There’s also a lighting-up ceremony and game booths for families to enjoy together.

Another favorite activity is to 猜燈謎 (caai1 dang1 mai4), or solve riddles that are written on lanterns. Trying to solve the lantern riddle gives people something to think about while admiring the lanterns.

During the Lantern Festival, you can also see the lively dragon and lion dances. 舞獅 (mou5 si1), or the lion dance, is a kind of traditional performing art with martial arts techniques. To perform it, two dancers are dressed in lion costumes, one wearing the head and the other wearing the lower body. This lion jumps and rolls to the tune of music from gongs and drums, full of energy. Keep in mind that the lion in the Chinese lion dance is very different from lions in Western cultures, so if you have a chance, please enjoy it!

As we mentioned earlier, the Spring Festival is a perfect time to be with loved ones. Many Hongkongers get together with family members to enjoy a nice meal together, including 湯圓 (tong1 jyun2), or the glutinous rice ball. You may recall that glutinous rice balls are also eaten during the Winter Solstice celebration because they symbolize unity and reunion; people consume them during the Lantern Festival for the same reason.

4. Chinese Love Stories

How many people through the ages have looked toward the sky at night, hungering for love, and imagining their own future? And how many writers through the ages have wanted to express the genuine feelings of being human?

Some people say that Chinese people aren’t very romantic by nature. However, some of the most beautiful love stories come from Chinese culture and folklore.

Two of the most popular Chinese love stories are those of the Butterfly Lovers and of the Cowherd and the Weaver. Why not read up on these yourself?

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for the Spring Lantern Festival

Glutinous Rice Balls

Are you ready to review some of the Cantonese vocabulary words we saw in this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for this holiday!

  • 元宵節 (jyun4 siu1 zit3) — Lantern Festival
  • 舞獅 (mou5 si1) — lion dance
  • 正月十五 (zing1 jyut6 sap6 ng5) — the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar calendar
  • 猜燈謎 (caai1 dang1 mai4) — solve riddles that are written on lanterns
  • 彩燈 (coi2 dang1) — paper lantern
  • 元宵綵燈會 (jyun4 siu1 coi2 dang1 wui5) — Lunar New Year Lantern Carnival
  • 掛燈籠 (gwaa3 dang1 lung4) — hang lantern
  • 湯圓 (tong1 jyun2) — glutinous rice ball
  • 月圓之夜 (jyut6 jyun4 zi1 je6) — full moon night
  • 舞龍 (mou5 lung4) — dragon dance
  • 花燈 (faa1 dang1) — colorful lantern

To hear the pronunciation of each word or phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Cantonese Spring Lantern Festival vocabulary list.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the Lantern Festival in Hong Kong is an essential component of traditional Chinese culture and is a celebration you don’t want to miss experiencing.

What are your thoughts on this Chinese holiday? Is there a Valentine’s Day celebration in your country? Let us know in the comments!

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How to Celebrate the Winter Solstice in Hong Kong

During the Winter Solstice Festival, Hong Kong prepares to celebrate the coming New Year with family and loved ones. In this article, you’ll learn about how Hongkongers celebrate the Chinese Winter Solstice, and why!

At, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative—starting with this article.

Let’s delve into this rich and cozy aspect of Hong Kong culture together!

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1. What is the Winter Solstice?

In Chinese tradition, there’s a saying that says Winter Solstice is more important than the Lunar New Year. That is because ancient China was an agricultural community, and cultivation had to be done according to the season.

Why do the Chinese celebrate the Winter Solstice?

Chinese people observed astronomy and the laws of nature, and found that the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. After that day, the daytime gradually becomes longer, and spring comes as winter fades away. Hence, the start of a new year actually starts on Winter Solstice instead of the Lunar New Year.

2. When is the Winter Solstice Festival?

Frosty Winter Scene

Each year, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21 or December 22.

3. How Hongkongers Celebrate the Winter Solstice

A Family Reunion

On Winter Solstice, Hongkongers usually visit the temple, and then everyone has a family reunion and dines together. This is called zou dung. A delicious sumptuous dinner with family and friends, followed by glutinous rice balls as dessert, all while enjoying bonding and reuniting with everyone, is the best way to start a new year.

Do you know why eating glutinous rice balls is a custom during the Winter Solstice? Glutinous rice balls are a round-shaped dessert made of glutinous rice flour, and symbolize reunion. In some areas, eating glutinous rice balls on Winter Solstice represents a person adding a year to their age. There are various types of fillings in glutinous rice balls; the most common are black sesame and peanut, as well as the Shanghainese-style glutinous rice balls in sweet osmanthus and glutinous rice wine.

For the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival, Hong Kong companies let their employees go home one or two hours before schedule, so they can go home earlier and enjoy family time and the sumptuous end-of-the-year dinner.

4. Winter Solstice as a Public Holiday

In which region is Winter Solstice a public holiday?

Trick question! Actually, Winter Solstice isn’t a public holiday in Hong Kong. Therefore, kids and even some adults don’t pay much attention to it.

Macau is the only region among all Chinese societies that classifies Winter Solstice as a public holiday.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Winter Solstice in Hong Kong

Wonton Dumpling

Here’s some essential Cantonese vocabulary you should know for the Winter Solstice in Hong Kong!

  • 冬天 (dung1 tin1) — Winter
  • 雲吞 (wan4 tan1) — Wonton dumpling
  • 冬大過年 (dung1 daai6 gwo3 nin4) — Winter Solstice is more important than Chinese New Year
  • 冬至 (dung1 zi3) — Winter Solstice Festival
  • 永夜 (wing5 je6) — Polar night
  • 白夜 (baak6 je6) — Midnight sun
  • 做冬 (zou6 dung1) — Have dinner with family on Winter Solstice evening
  • 桂花酒釀圓子 (gwai3 faa1 zau2 joeng6 jyun2 zi2) — Glutinous rice balls in sweet osmanthus and glutinous rice wine
  • 湯圓 (tong1 jyun2) — Glutinous rice ball
  • 一家團聚 (jat1 gaa1 tyun4 zeoi6) — Family reunion

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Cantonese Winter Solstice vocabulary list! Once you have these words down, you’ll be a step closer to talk about the Winter Solstice in Cantonese. ;)

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about this fun and festive holiday with us! What are your thoughts on the Winter Solstice? aims to make the process of learning Cantonese a painless and exciting experience, and what better way than by digging into Cantonese culture?

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The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong

The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong

The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong stretches down into history as far as the Han Dynasty, and is an integral part of Hong Kong’s culture and identity. This holiday comprises largely of two concepts: warding off ill luck and respecting one’s ancestors.

In this article, you’ll learn about the various Chung Yeung Festival traditions and the meaning behind them—including why HongKongers drink chrysanthemum wine and climb mountains on this day! You’ll soon see how essential knowing about the Chung Yeung Festival is to really understanding Cantonese culture today.

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1. What is Chung Yeung Festival?

The Chung Yeung Festival, or the Double Ninth Festival, is a holiday with deep historic roots, having begun as early as the Han Dynasty period. This is a public holiday, and known to be a busy time for many shops and tourist locations in Hong Kong.

The Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong has traditionally been considered a day of bad luck and potential danger. This is rooted in the Chung Yeung Festival story, in which a man is warned of danger to his village and escapes to the mountains; because he survived his village’s disaster, the Chung Yeung Festival is also considered a day of warding off or escaping ill luck.

Further, many people take this day to pay respect to their ancestors.

2. When is the Chung Yeung Festival?

Ninth Day of Ninth Lunar Month

The Cantonese Chung Yeung Festival is celebrated each year on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month (hence its common name of Double Ninth Festival).

For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

  • 2019: October 7
  • 2020: October 25
  • 2021: October 14
  • 2022: October 4
  • 2023: October 23
  • 2024: October 11
  • 2025: October 29
  • 2026: October 18
  • 2027: October 8
  • 2028: October 26

3. Chung Yeung Festival Traditions in Hong Kong

Paying Respect to Ancestors

Most Chung Yeung Festival activities are performed today in fun celebration, though traditionally they were done in order to ward off bad luck or circumstances.

Just as the man in the Chung Yeung Festival story escaped death by going to the mountains, HongKongers often climb mountains or hills themselves on this day. Others may simply go on a hike with family or loved ones.

Another common feature of the Chung Yeung Festival holiday is flying kites. The symbolism behind this is similar to that of climbing mountains. Essentially, HongKongers believe that flying the kite removes bad luck from them, up into the sky where it can’t get to them during the year.

Further, on a more solemn note, many HongKongers visit ancestral graves during the Chung Yeung Festival as a show of respect and honor. This is usually an occasion for the whole family, who offers their ancestors food, clean the sites, and burn incense.

4. Chung Yeung Festival Foods

During the Chung Yeung Festival, Hong Kong also celebrates through consuming the Chung Yeung rice cake and chrysanthemum wine. HongKongers believe that the wine (which they often make themselves at home!) cleanses the person drinking it, thus helping to remove ill luck. And as for the cake, it represents being “up” or “on top,” and when eaten, is thought to improve the chances of the consumer moving to a higher status in life.

5. Essential Chung Yeung Festival Vocabulary

Yellow Chrysanthemum Flower

Here’s the essential vocabulary to know for the Chung Yeung Festival in Hong Kong!

  • 野餐 (je5 caan1) — picnic
  • 重陽 (cung4 joeng4) — the ninth day of the ninth lunar month
  • 祭祖 (zai3 zou2) — pay respect at ancestors’ grave
  • 耐 (noi6) — long time
  • 風箏 (fung1 zang1) — kite
  • 香 (hoeng1) — incense
  • 登高 (dang1 gou1) — climb a mountain
  • 重陽糕 (cung4 joeng4 gou1) — Chung Yeung rice cake
  • 菊花酒 (guk1 faa1 zau2) — chrysanthemum wine
  • 菊花 (guk1 faa1) — chrysanthemum
  • 重陽節 (cung4 joeng4 zit3) — Chung Yeung Festival

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and alongside relevant images, check out our Cantonese Chung Yeung Festival vocabulary list!

How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Master Cantonese

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Celebration of British Hong Kong’s Reunification with China

When did Hong Kong go back to China?

For Hong Kong, 1997 is one of the most significant years in its history; this is the year that British Hong Kong was reunified with China after many years of British rule. In the article, we’ll be discussing the Hong Kong protests, go more into the history of the question “When was Hong Kong given back to China?” and tell you about the day following Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day.

In learning about this important holiday in Hong Kong, you’re allowing yourself to better understand the full extent of its culture. With this knowledge in mind, you’re also more likely to succeed in your Cantonese language studies!

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1. What is Establishment Day?

From 1841 to 1997, the British ruled Hong Kong, beginning at the time of the First Opium War fought between the Chinese and the British. The war resulted in China ceding much of the Hong Kong territory to Britain. Later, after the Second Opium War, China gave a ninety-nine-year lease of additional Hong Kong territory to Britain. Once that lease expired, Britain returned all of British Hong Kong back to China.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day is the day to commemorate Hong Kong’s return to China following the Hong Kong handover. For Hong Kong, 1997 was an important year—the year it ceased being British Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong reunification with China commenced.

Fun fact:

Do you know Hong Kong’s official name after its return to China?

Hong Kong’s official name after its return to China is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Therefore, the Anniversary of Hong Kong’s Reunification with China is also called Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day.

2. When is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day?

Flag Raising Ceremony in Hong Kong

July 1 marks Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, which officially begins at exactly 7:58 am.

3. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day Celebrations

Learn how the Cantonese celebrate Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day by reading the Cantonese text below. You can find the English translation below it.









On the morning of July 1, at 7:58, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR and all members of the Executive Council and government officials attend the flag-raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. There are also performances by the Police Band, and the Flying Service and Disciplinary Forces give salutes from the air and the sea.

After that, there is a reception that many segments of the community are invited to attend. In the evening, a dazzling fireworks display is held at Victoria Harbour.

Ever since the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997, there have been protest demonstrations every year on July 1.

Most of them are initiated by the Hong Kong Civil Human Rights Front, with the aim of promoting the human rights movement and the development of civil society; the largest-scale demonstrations were in 2003, 2004, and 2012.

In 2003, the Basic Law Article 23 executed by the Hong Kong Government legislative provoked a large number of grievances; it was said that over 500,000 people participated in the demonstration, all dressed in black.

Hong Kong people expressed their demands rationally and peacefully, and in the end, the Article 23 legislation was shelved, and the July 1 demonstration became a symbol of the Hong Kong people’s spirit.

Since then, the July 1 demonstration has continued every year, mainly to demand universal suffrage, democracy, and improvement in people’s livelihoods, all through appealing to the government about public concerns in a non-violent way.

Hong Kong Reunification Race Day is also held by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Other than horse racing, there are also game booths and stage performances, just like a carnival, but just for adults.

4. The Day Following this Holiday

Cocktail Party

Did you know that the day following Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day is a market holiday in Hong Kong?

This means that the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is closed on this day each year. This is significant because the Hong Kong Stock Exchange only takes fifteen such holidays a year.

5. Important Vocabulary for Establishment Day

Government Official Speaking

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day!

  • 升旗儀式 (sing1 kei4 ji4 sik1) — flag raising ceremony
  • 嘉年華 (gaa1 nin4 waa4) — carnival
  • 香港回歸紀念日 (hoeng1 gong2 wui4 gwai1 gei2 nim6 jat6) — Anniversary of Hong Kong’s Reunification with China
  • 香港特區行政長官 (hoeng1 gong2 dak6 keoi1 hang4 zing3 zoeng2 gun1) — The Chief Executive of Hong Kong
  • 七一遊行 (cat1 jat1 jau4 hang4) — The Hong Kong 1 July protests
  • 香港回歸賽馬日 (hoeng1 gong2 wui4 gwai1 coi3 maa5 jat6) — Hong Kong Reunification Raceday
  • 回歸 (wui4 gwai1) — reunification
  • 成立 (sing4 lap6) — establish
  • 政府 (zing3 fu2) — government
  • 官員 (gun1 jyun4) — government officials
  • 宣誓 (syun1 sai6) — vow
  • 酒會 (zau2 wui5) — cocktail party

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our Establishment Day vocabulary list!


We hope you enjoyed learning about Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day! Did you learn something new today? Let us know in the comments!

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How to Celebrate the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

Perhaps one of the most well-known Hong Kong celebrations around the world, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is held in commemoration of a poet’s suicide. This facet of the Dragon Boat Festival history may seem odd, and even dark, but it provides great insight into past and current Hong Kong culture.

At, we hope to make learning about Hong Kong culture and the Cantonese language both fun and informative. Any successful language learner can tell you that comprehending and respecting a country’s culture is a vital step in mastering its language.

That said, we hope you enjoy delving into the Dragon Boat Festival with us!

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1. What is the Dragon Boat Festival?

What is Dragon Boat Festival?

The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the ancient poet Qu Yuan, who committed suicide. It must sound pretty unfathomable—how would the suicide of a poet become a festival, or even a public holiday? Let’s look into the origins of the festival.

Qu Yuan, as the Minister over the Masses in the State of Chu, repeatedly tried to convince the fatuous King of Chu to ally with the State of Qi and fight against the State of Qin. But all his endeavors failed and he was exiled. Finally, Chu was destroyed by Qin. Full of grief and agony, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River on May 5 on the lunar calendar. Qu Yuan composed a lot of poetry expressing his concern for the country, which is why he was named the patriotic poet.

2. When is the Dragon Boat Festival?

Dragon Boat on Water

So, When is Dragon Boat Festival?

In Hong Kong, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

  • 2019: June 7
  • 2020: June 25
  • 2021: June 14
  • 2022: June 3
  • 2023: June 22
  • 2024: June 10
  • 2025: May 31
  • 2026: June 19
  • 2027: June 9
  • 2028: May 28

3. Reading Practice: Dragon Boat Festival Traditions

From Dragon Boat racing to delicious Dragon Boat Festival food, many traditions encompass the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. Read the Cantonese text (traditional and Jyutping) to learn more about the Dragon Boat Festival.




hai2 dyun1 ng5 zit3, jan4 jan4 dou1 wui5 sik6 zung2. zung2 hai6 jung6 coeng4 jing4 ge3 zuk1 jip6 waak6 ze2 lou4 wai5 jip6, zoeng1 no6 mai5 tong4 maai4 pui3 liu2 baau1 zyu3, jin4 hau6 zing1 suk6 lei4 sik6 ge3. zung2 ge3 hei2 jyun4 hai6 jan1 wai6 wat1 jyun4 tau4 gong1 zi6 zeon6, co2 gwok3 baak3 sing3 fei1 soeng4 soeng1 sam1, jau6 paa3 wat1 jyun4 ge3 si1 tai2 bei2 di1 jyu2 tung4 maai4 haa1 sik6 zo2, so2 ji5 zau6 jung6 zuk1 tung2 zong1 zo2 di1 mai5 sik6 dam2 jap6 heoi3 gong1 jap6 min6, hei1 mong6 zoeng1 di1 jyu2 tung4 maai4 haa1 wai3 baau2. hau6 lei4 zau6 maan6 maan1 jin5 bin3 sing4 jung6 seon2 pei4 waak6 ze2 zuk1 jip6 baau1 zo2 dam2 jap6 gong1 jap6 min6. dou3 zo2 jin6 doi6, zung2 jau5 hou2 do1 m4 tung4 zung2 leoi6, jau5 haam4 jau5 tim4. baau1 kut3 haam4 ge3 juk6 zung2, tong4 maai4 tim4 ge3 gaan2 seoi2 zung2.

dyun1 ng5 zit3 ge3 ling6 jat1 go3 zaap6 zuk6 zau6 hai6 paa4 lung4 zau1. keoi5 ge3 hei2 jyun4 le1 jik6 dou1 hai6 jan1 wai6 wat1 jyun4 tau4 gong1 zi6 zeon6, jyu1 si6 co2 gwok3 baak3 sing3 bat1 ting4 hai2 dou6 paa4 teng5 daa2 lau4 keoi5 ge3 si1 tai2. dou3 zo2 jin6 doi6 paa4 lung4 zau1 ji5 ging1 bin3 zo2 jat1 zung2 biu2 jin6 tyun4 deoi6 zing1 san4 ge3 wan6 dung6, ji4 ce2 mui5 nin4 dou1 geoi2 baan6 lung4 zau1 ging3 dou6; gan6 nin4 lei4 le1 gang3 gaa1 faat3 zin2 sing4 gwok3 zai3 coi3 si6, zung6 hai2 jat1 gau2 gau2 jat1 nin4 sing4 lap6 zo2 gwok3 zai3 lung4 zau1 lyun4 hap6 wui5. dou3 zo2 ji6 lin4 jat1 ji6 nin4 sap6 jat1 jyut6, ji5 ging1 jau5 cat1 sap6 sei3 go3 wui5 jyun4 gwok3, tung4 maai4 saam1 go3 wui5 jyun4 zi1 gaak3 sam2 hat6 zung1 ge3 gwok3 gaa1.

lung4 zau1 jau5 bit6 jyu1 ngoi6 gwok3 sing6 hang4 ge3 duk6 muk6 zau1 waak6 ze2 baat3 jan4 sik1 ge3 paa4 teng5, ji4 hai6 jat1 zung2 seoi1 jiu3 gang3 do1 mak6 kai3 gang3 do1 hei3 lik6 ge3 wan6 dung6. jat1 bun1 lung4 zau1 syun4 san1 daai6 koi3 sap6 ji6 mai5 coeng4, zoi3 zyu3 ji6 sap6 ji6 wai2 syun4 jyun4, jat1 wai2 co5 hai2 syun4 tau4 gik1 gu2 zan3 fan5 si6 hei3 ge3 gu2 sau2, tung4 maai4 jat1 wai2 co5 hai2 syun4 mei5 ge3 to5 sau2.

During the Dragon Boat Festival, people eat rice dumplings, which are also known as zong. Zong is glutinous rice and other ingredients wrapped in long bamboo or reed leaves and then steamed before eating. This practice originated from Qu Yuan’s suicide, because people from the State of Chu were worried that fish and shrimp would eat his body, so they threw rice-stuffed-bamboo tubes into the river, hoping to keep the fish and shrimp well fed. Later the exterior evolved into bamboo leaves. Nowadays, there are many kinds of salty and sweet zong, including savory meat-stuffed zong and sweet zong.

Another custom of the Dragon Boat Festival is rowing a Dragon Boat. This also originated from Qu Yuan’s suicide, as after his death the people from the State of Chu kept rowing out on the river to try to salvage his body. Nowadays, rowing dragon boats has became a sport that encourages teamwork, and dragon boat races are held annually. In recent years, it has even developed into an international competition, and the International Dragon Boat Federation was founded in 1991. As of November 2012, there are 74 countries or territories with membership, and three pending applications.

Dragon boats differs from canoes and rowboats, because they require more synchronization and strength from the rowers. A standard dragon boat hull is twelve meters long and carries twenty-two rowers, a drummer who sits in the front to boost morale, and a steersman at the tail.

4. Dragon Boat Festival in Stanley

Racing a Dragon Boat

Do you know where most people in Hong Kong celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival?

In Hong Kong, most people celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival in Stanley. That’s because the largest and the most established Stanley International Dragon Boat Championships are held there. The Stanley Main Street also holds a festive carnival on that day.

5. Useful Vocabulary for the Dragon Boat Festival

Sweet Rice Dumplings

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong!

  • 端午節 (dyun1 ng5 zit3) — Dragon Boat Festival
  • 龍舟 (lung4 zau1) — dragon boat
  • 鹼水粽 (gaan2 seoi2 zung2) — sweet rice dumpling
  • 爬龍舟 (paa4 lung4 zau1) — row a dragon boat
  • 肉糉 (juk6 zung2) — rice dumpling stuffed with meat
  • 雄黃酒 (hung4 wong4 zau2) — realgar wine
  • 屈原 (wat1 jyun4) — Qu Yuan
  • 鑼鼓 (lo4 gu2) — gongs and drums
  • 糯米 (no6 mai5) — glutinous rice
  • 龍舟競渡 (lung4 zau1 ging3 dou6) — dragon boat race

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Cantonese Dragon Boat Festival vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each of these words accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.


What do you think about Hong Kong’s Dragon Boat Festival? Let us know in the comments; we always love to hear from you!

To learn more about culture in Hong Kong, and of course the Cantonese language, visit us at! We provide learning tools for every student, to ensure that anyone can master Cantonese, and have fun while doing so. Check out our free vocabulary lists to improve your word knowledge, read more insightful blog posts like this one, and chat with fellow Cantonese learners on our community forums! By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program, and learn Cantonese one-on-one with your own personal teacher.

What are you waiting for? With your determination and our learning tools & support, you can master Cantonese before you know it!

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What is Tomb Sweeping Day in Hong Kong?

Tomb Sweeping Day (or the Ching Ming Festival) in Hong Kong, is a day of great importance to HongKongers. This is because it’s the day on which they fulfill their duties of filial piety by honoring deceased family and ancestors according to tradition. hopes to give you a better understanding of the Ching Ming Festival in Hong Kong, and to give you a good idea of Tomb Sweeping Day’s meaning. In learning about this significant aspect of Hong Kong culture, you’re not only immersing yourself in the country of your target language, but you’re allowing yourself to find more purpose in your language-learning journey.

Let’s begin by answering the following question: “What is Tomb Sweeping Day?”

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1. What is the Ching Ming Festival?

Each year in Hong Kong, the Ching Ming Festival—also known as Tomb Sweeping Day—is celebrated. This is the day when HongKongers pay respect to their deceased family members and honor their duties of filial piety. This means traveling (sometimes long distances) to clean up their grave sites and burn papier-mâché and joss money there.

2. When is Tomb Sweeping Day?

Each year, the Ching Ming Festival is typically celebrated on April 4 or 5, though sometimes it takes place on April 6. Though the date doesn’t vary too much from year to year, we’ll still provide you with an outline of this holiday’s date for the next ten years:

  • 2019: April 5
  • 2020: April 4
  • 2021: April 4
  • 2022: April 5
  • 2023: April 5
  • 2024: April 4
  • 2025: April 4
  • 2026: April 6
  • 2027: April 5
  • 2028: April 4

3. Reading Practice: How is the Ching Ming Festival Celebrated?

Family Celerate Ching Ming Festival

How is Tomb Sweeping Day in Hong Kong celebrated? Read the Cantonese text below to find out, and to learn some Ching Ming Festival facts. (You can find the English translation directly below it.)



The traditional activity of the Ching Ming Festival is to visit, clean, and pay our respects at our ancestors’ graves. It means to carry out filial piety by burning incense, weeding, and burning joss money and papier-mâché offerings in front of the tombstones. As spring starts around the same time, some families take the opportunity to go on an outing and get some fresh air. Some families will visit the ancestors’ graves a few days or even weeks earlier to avoid the crowd, so generally speaking the customs are not limited to Ching Ming Day only.
The papier-mâché offerings we burn during the Ching Ming Festival are papier-mâché models in the shape of daily-use items; descendants send these items to their ancestors in the underworld by burning them, hoping that the ancestors will have an affluent lifestyle in the afterlife.The papier-mâché stores offer countless types of items, fancy cars, villas, servants, yachts, game consoles, mobile phones, pets, and so on. Everything that we use comes in a papier-mâché version for the deceased. Small items are usually in 1-1 size, but bigger items are usually made at a smaller scale for easier delivery.
The most common flower used to pay respect to the deceased is chrysanthemum. That’s because chrysanthemum represents yearning and longing, especially the white chrysanthemum, which is used in memorial ceremonies. Therefore most people bring chrysanthemums to the graveyards on Ching Ming Festival.

4. Additional Information

One of the most common Ching Ming Festival foods is sweetened green rice balls, which are made in advance so as to keep the actual holiday free for the traditional activities.

There is another common phenomenon on Ching Ming Festival: wildfire. While paying respect to the deceased, some people have accidentally left fires burning, or have not used metal buckets to burn joss money and products. Wildfires started by human negligence like this have burned down a lot of trees and wildlife. Of course, this attracts a lot of public attention every year, so the government has set up laws to regulate it and raise the public’s awareness of fire safety.

There is a very famous poem by Du Mu about the festival:
Drizzling rain falls on Ching Ming days.
The mourners’ hearts are broken.
Where can a wine-house be found to drown one’s sorrow?
A cowherd points to Almond Flower Village in the distance.

5. Must-know Vocab

Ching Ming Festival

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for the Ching Ming Festival!

  • 祖先 (zou2 sin1) — ancestor
  • 清明節 (cing1 ming4 zit3) — Qingming Festival
  • 野餐 (je5 caan1) — picnic
  • 白切雞 (baak6 cit3 gai1) — white sliced chicken
  • 掃墓 (sou3 mou6) — pay respects to a dead person at his tomb
  • 祭祖 (zai3 zou2) — pay respect to deceased ancestors
  • 香燭 (hoeng1 zuk1) — joss stick
  • 陰司紙 (jam1 si1 zi2) — Joss paper
  • 孝道 (haau3 dou6) — filial piety
  • 杜牧 (dou6 muk6) — Du Mu
  • 拜山 (baai3 saan1) — commemorate a dead person at his grave

To hear each word pronounced, check out our Ching Ming Festival vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio of its pronunciation.


What do you think about the Tomb Sweeping Festival in Hong Kong? Is there a holiday in your country for honoring the deceased? Let us know in the comments!

We hope that you enjoyed learning about the Ching Ming Festival with us. For more information on Cantonese culture and the Cantonese language, visit us at We offer an array of insightful blog posts, free vocabulary lists, and an online community to discuss lessons with fellow Cantonese learners. You can also upgrade to Premium Plus to take advantage of a one-on-one learning experience with our MyTeacher program!

In the meantime, keep up your hard work! Know that learning about a country’s culture can be exciting, and is a great way to enrich your language skills. All your hard work, studying, and practice will pay off!

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How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, people celebrate the beginning of the new lunar year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. The Hong Kong New Year celebrations can take many forms—from lion dances, to fireworks, and even the Hong Kong New Year countdown. Many of these celebrations for the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong have their roots in tradition, and thus learning about this holiday and how it’s celebrated will help you know more about the Hong Kong culture as a whole.

At, we seek to provide you with all the info you need to better understand Hong Kong, its people, and its language. By learning about these things, you’re both enabling yourself to master the Cantonese language and nuances, and showing respect for the country you plan to visit.

So, what exactly is the Hong Kong New Year? How is the Hong Kong New Year’s Eve celebrated?

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1. What is the Chinese Lunar New Year?

The Chinese Lunar New Year is a celebration of the beginning of the new lunar year. It lasts a few days and is associated with many fascinating traditions. Learn more about the Hong Kong New Year below.

2. When is it?

Counting Down to Midnight

This holiday falls on a different day each year on the Gregorian calendar, based on the lunar year calendar. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s dates for the next ten years.

  • 2019: February 5
  • 2020: January 25
  • 2021: February 12
  • 2022: February 1
  • 2023: January 22
  • 2024: February 10
  • 2025: January 29
  • 2026: February 17
  • 2027: February 6
  • 2028: January 26

3. How is it Celebrated?

Lion Dancer

There are a lot of traditional customs that are carried out before and after the Lunar New Year.
Before the Lunar New Year, everyone is busy with all kinds of chores, like buying New Year’s foods, preparing red packets, getting haircuts, and purchasing new clothes. During the lunar calendar’s twelfth month, on the eighth day, everyone spring cleans their houses, which in Cantonese is referred to as 大掃除.

On New Year’s Eve, family members gather and have a festive dinner together, called 團年飯.
On New Year’s Day, people visit their parents and wish for good luck at shrines by burning incense.

On day two of the Hong Kong New Year, the visits continue, and everyone watches the Hong Kong New Year’s Eve fireworks in the evening.

When visiting relatives and friends during Lunar New Year, everyone offers auspicious greetings. You might have heard of the most famous New Year’s greeting, 恭喜發財, which means ‘Happy New Year and wishing you prosperity’.

The host decorates the home with a spring couplet and flowers, and prepares red packets, or 利是, a Chinese candy box, or 全盒, and rice cakes for their guests.

Eating rice cakes during Lunar New Year means wishing for improvement in all aspects of life. This is because in Cantonese and Chinese, the word “rice cake” or 年糕 sounds similar to the other word 年高, meaning “higher level in the year”.

The most interesting aspect of the Lunar New Year is the red packets, which is 利是 in Cantonese. These are small red or golden envelopes filled with money. Every married person prepares numerous red packets to give to their unmarried relatives and friends, as well as to the people who help them frequently in daily life, such as doormen and cleaners. Giving people red packets is seen as a way to share blessings and good luck with others.

Most companies also give employees red packets on the first day of work after the holiday as a blessing for a year of good fortune.

Though the Lunar New Year involves a lot of visits, there is also a day when you aren’t supposed to visit others. This would be the third day of the New Year, and it is because this day is considered unlucky, so you’re supposed to refrain from spreading the bad luck by visiting others’ homes. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to take a break from the many visits you make on the first and second day of the New Year!

4. Additional Information

You should wear red during the Lunar New Year, because in Chinese culture, red, or 紅色 in Cantonese, represents “the joy” and “good luck.” But keep in mind that the colors black and white represent death, so be sure not to wear all black or white during this time!

5. Must-know Vocab

God of Wealth

Here’s some vocab for you to review so that you can celebrate this holiday without a hitch.

  • 舞獅 (mou5 si1) — lion dance
  • 蘿蔔糕 (lo4 baak6 gou1) — turnip cake
  • 年糕 (nin4 gou1) — rice cake
  • 團年飯 (tyun4 nin4 faan6) — reunion dinner
  • 利是 (lei6 si6) — the red envelope
  • 拜年 (baai3 nin4) — to visit someone during the Chinese New Year
  • 年宵市場 (nin4 siu1 si5 coeng4) — Lunar New Year Fair
  • 財神 (coi4 san4) — God of Wealth
  • 花市 (faa1 si5) — flowermarket
  • 煙花 (jin1 faa1) — firework
  • 對聯 (deoi3 lyun2) — couplet
  • 倒數 (dou3 sou2) — countdown
  • 慶祝 (hing3 zuk1) — celebration
  • 農曆新年 (nung4 lik6 san1 nin4) — Lunar New Year

To hear each word pronounced, check out our Cantonese Lunar New Year vocabulary list. Each word is accompanied by an audio file with its pronunciation.


Now you know how the Chinese New Year is celebrated in Hong Kong! What do you think about the Hong Kong New Year events? Let us know in the comments!

To gain even more knowledge about Hong Kong’s culture, visit us at We offer informative blog posts, vocabulary lists on a range of topics, and even host an online community forum where you can discuss lessons with fellow Cantonese learners. And if you prefer a one-on-one learning experience, you can download our MyTeacher app which will provide you with your very own Cantonese teacher.

We wish you well in your Cantonese learning journey and hope that you’re ready to celebrate the in Hong Kong on New Year’s Eve. Have fun!

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How to Say Happy New Year in Cantonese & New Year Wishes

Learn all the Cantonese New Year wishes online, in your own time, on any device! Join CantoneseClass101 for a special Cantonese New Year celebration!

How to Say Happy New Year in Cantonese

Can you relate to the year passing something like this: “January, February, March - December!”? Many people do! Quantum physics teaches us that time is relative, and few experiences illustrate this principle as perfectly as when we reach the end of a year. To most of us, it feels like the old one has passed in the blink of an eye, while the new year lies ahead like a very long journey! However, New Year is also a time to celebrate beginnings, and to say goodbye to what has passed. This is true in every culture, no matter when New Year is celebrated.

So, how do you say Happy New Year in Cantonese? Let a native teach you! At CantoneseClass101, you will learn how to correctly greet your friends over New Year, and wish them well with these Cantonese New Year wishes!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate New Year in China
  2. Must-Know Cantonese Words & Phrases for the New Year!
  3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions in Cantonese
  4. Inspirational New Year Quotes
  5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes
  6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages
  7. How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You Learn Cantonese

But let’s start with some vocabulary for Cantonese New Year celebrations, very handy for conversations.

1. How to Celebrate New Year in China

How to Celebrate New Year

Let’s talk about New Year’s Eve, or 除夕 in Cantonese.

Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?

What is the most popular way to send New Year’s messages after the New Year’s Eve countdown in modern-day Hong Kong?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep reading!

Every 31st of December, countdown celebrations are held throughout Hong Kong. Many countdown events are held in shopping centers, but the government’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department also organizes the countdown carnival, which is 嘉年華 in Cantonese. Usually, families spend the New Years’ events and celebrations together in Hong Kong. A lot of people also host private parties at restaurants and clubhouses on New Year’s Eve.

Among the many countdown celebrations held in Hong Kong, the most popular is fireworks on Victoria Harbour. Fireworks are called 煙花 in Cantonese. This event attracts a lot of people to the shores.

In Hong Kong, there are three major outdoor New Year countdown events. “Countdown” in Cantonese is 倒數. The first is the Apple Countdown, which is held at Times Square in Causeway Bay. The concept of this countdown was inspired by the New Year countdown held in Times Square in New York. The second takes place on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, where famous celebrities perform and count down the coming of the New Year along with the public. The third is at Lan Kwai Fong in Central. During New Year’s, every bar, restaurant and nightclub in these areas is packed, and the streets are filled with people. The roads around those areas are blocked for the day and become “pedestrian zones”, or 行人專用區 in Cantonese.

Crowded events such as these often lead to outbreaks of disorderly behavior, so fights and accidents during the countdown events are reported almost every year. The most serious accident reported was the Lan Kwai Fong tragedy of 1993. In this accident, 21 people died and 63 people were injured due to a stampede that resulted from overcrowded streets. It is recorded as the worst stampede in Hong Kong’s history. Ever since then, the Hong Kong Police Force, or 香港警務處, have implemented crowd control in all crowded areas to prevent joyous events from turning into tragic disasters.

On New Year’s Eve, most public transportation, or 公共交通工具, offer overnight services, called 通宵服務 in Cantonese. These services allow participants in New Year’s events to return home safely after the celebrations.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

What is the most popular way to send New Year’s messages after the New Year’s Eve countdown in modern-day Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, most people call or send instant messages to their friends and relatives. Because there is such a heavy demand on phone network services at this time, it‘s no surprise when calls or text messages don’t go through.

Happy New Year!
san1 nin4 faai3 lok6!

2. Must-Know Cantonese Words & Phrases for the New Year!

Cantonese Words & Phrases for the New Year

1- Year


This is pretty self-explanatory. Most countries follow a Gregorian calendar, which has approximately 365 days in a year, while in some cultures, other year designations are also honored. Therefore, New Year’s day in China could fall on a different day than in your country. When do you celebrate New Year?

2- Midnight

ng5 je6

The point in time when a day ends and a new one starts. Many New Year celebrants prefer to stay awake till midnight, and greet the new annum as it breaks with fanfare and fireworks!

3- New Year’s Day

jyun4 daan3

In most countries, the new year is celebrated for one whole day. On the Gregorian calendar, this falls on January 1st. On this day, different cultures engage in festive activities, like parties, parades, big meals with families and many more.

You can do it!

4- Party

paai3 deoi3

A party is most people’s favorite way to end the old year, and charge festively into the new one! We celebrate all we accomplished in the old year, and joyfully anticipate what lies ahead.

5- Dancing

tiu3 mou5

Usually, when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year officially begins, people break out in dance! It is a jolly way to express a celebratory mood with good expectations for the year ahead. Also, perhaps, that the old year with its problems has finally passed! Dance parties are also a popular way to spend New Year’s Eve in many places.

6- Champagne

hoeng1 ban1

Originating in France, champagne is a bubbly, alcoholic drink that is often used to toast something or someone during celebrations.

7- Fireworks

jin1 faa1

These are explosives that cause spectacular effects when ignited. They are popular for announcing the start of the new year with loud noises and colorful displays! In some countries, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits. In others, the use of fireworks is forbidden in urban areas due to their harmful effect on pets. Most animals’ hearing is much more sensitive than humans’, so this noisy display can be very frightful and traumatising to them.

8- Countdown

dou3 sou2

This countdown refers to New Year celebrants counting the seconds, usually backward, till midnight, when New Year starts - a great group activity that doesn’t scare animals, and involves a lot of joyful shouting when the clock strikes midnight!

9- New Year’s Holiday

san1 nin4 gaa3 kei4

In many countries, New Year’s Day is a public holiday - to recuperate from the party the previous night, perhaps! Families also like to meet on this day to enjoy a meal and spend time together.

10- Confetti

ng5 coi2 seoi3 zi2

In most Western countries, confetti is traditionally associated with weddings, but often it is used as a party decoration. Some prefer to throw it in the air at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

11- New Year’s Eve

san1 nin4 cin4 zik6

This is the evening before New Year breaks at midnight! Often, friends and family meet for a party or meal the evening before, sometimes engaging in year-end rituals. How are you planning to give your New Year greetings in 2018?

12- Toast

ging3 zau2

A toast is a type of group-salutation that involves raising your glass to drink with others in honor of something or someone. A toast to the new year is definitely in order!

13- Resolution

san1 nin4 daai6 gai3

Those goals or intentions you hope to, but seldom keep in the new year! Many people consider the start of a new year to be the opportune time for making changes or plans. Resolutions are those intentions to change, or the plans. It’s best to keep your resolutions realistic so as not to disappoint yourself!

14- Parade

ceon4 yau4

New Year celebrations are a huge deal in some countries! Parades are held in the streets, often to celebratory music, with colorful costumes and lots of dancing. Parades are like marches, only less formal and way more fun. At CantoneseClass101, you can engage in forums with natives who can tell you what Cantonese New Year celebrations are like!

3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions List

So, you learned the Cantonese word for ‘resolution’. Fabulous! Resolutions are those goals and intentions that we hope to manifest in the year that lies ahead. The beginning of a new year serves as a good marker in time to formalise these. Some like to do it in writing, others only hold these resolutions in their hearts. Here are our Top 10 New Year’s resolutions at CantoneseClass101 - what are yours?

Learn these phrases and impress your Cantonese friends with your vocabulary.

New Year's Resolutions

1- Read more

duk6 do1 di1 syu1.

Reading is a fantastic skill that everyone can benefit from. You’re a business person? Apparently, successful business men and women read up to 60 books a year. This probably excludes fiction, so better scan your library or Amazon for the top business reads if you plan to follow in the footsteps of the successful! Otherwise, why not make it your resolution to read more Cantonese in the new year? You will be surprised by how much this will improve your Cantonese language skills!

2- Spend more time with family

pui4 uk1 kei2 jan4 do1 di1.

Former US President George Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, was quoted as having said this: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” This is very true! Relationships are often what gives life meaning, so this is a worthy resolution for any year.

3- Lose weight

gaam2 fei4.

Hands up, how many of you made this new year’s resolution last year too…?! This is a notoriously difficult goal to keep, as it takes a lot of self discipline not to eat unhealthily. Good luck with this one, and avoid unhealthy fad diets!

4- Save money

cou5 cin2.

Another common and difficult resolution! However, no one has ever been sorry when they saved towards reaching a goal. Make it your resolution to save money to upgrade your subscription to CantoneseClass101’s Premium PLUS option in the new year - it will be money well spent!

5- Quit smoking

gaai3 jin1.

This is a resolution that you should definitely keep, or your body could punish you severely later! Smoking is a harmful habit with many hazardous effects on your health. Do everything in your power to make this resolution come true in the new year, as your health is your most precious asset.

6- Learn something new

hok6 san1 je5.

Science has proven that learning new skills can help keep brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay! It can even slow down the progression of the disease. So, keep your brain healthy by learning to speak a new language, studying towards a qualification, learning how to sew, or how to play chess - no matter how old you are, the possibilities are infinite!

7- Drink less

jam2 siu2 di1 zau2.

This is another health resolution that is good to heed any time of the year. Excessive drinking is associated with many diseases, and its effect can be very detrimental to good relationships too. Alcohol is a poison and harmful for the body in large quantities!

8- Exercise regularly

ding6 si4 wan6 dung6.

This resolution goes hand-in-hand with ‘Lose weight’! An inactive body is an unhealthy and often overweight one, so give this resolution priority in the new year.

9- Eat healthy

sik6 dak1 gin6 hong1 di1.

If you stick with this resolution, you will lose weight and feel better in general. It is a very worthy goal to have!

10- Study Cantonese with CantoneseClass101

jung6 hok6 gwong2 dung1 waa2

Of course! You can only benefit from learning Cantonese, especially with us! Learning how to speak Cantonese can keep your brain healthy, it can widen your circle of friends, and improve your chances to land a dream job anywhere in the world. CantoneseClass101 makes it easy and enjoyable for you to stick to this resolution.

4. Inspirational New Year Quotes

Inspirational Quotes

Everyone knows that it is sometimes very hard to stick to resolutions, and not only over New Year. The reasons for this vary from person to person, but all of us need inspiration every now and then! A good way to remain motivated is to keep inspirational quotes near as reminders that it’s up to us to reach our goals.

Click here for quotes that will also work well in a card for a special Cantonese new year greeting!

Make decorative notes of these in Cantonese, and keep them close! Perhaps you could stick them above your bathroom mirror, or on your study’s wall. This way you not only get to read Cantonese incidentally, but also remain inspired to reach your goals! Imagine feeling like giving up on a goal, but reading this quote when you go to the bathroom: “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” What a positive affirmation!

5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes

Language Learning Quotes

Still undecided whether you should enroll with CantoneseClass101 to learn a new language? There’s no time like the present to decide! Let the following Language Learning Quotes inspire you with their wisdom.

Click here to read the most inspirational Language Learning Quotes!

As legendary President Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” So, learning how to say Happy New Year in Cantonese could well be a way into someone special’s heart for you! Let this year be the one where you to learn how to say Happy New Year, and much more, in Cantonese - it could open many and unexpected doors for you.

6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages

Here’s a lovely bonus for you! Why stop with Cantonese - learn how to say Happy New Year in 31 other languages too! Watch this video and learn how to pronounce these New Year’s wishes like a native in under two minutes.

7. Why Enrolling with CantoneseClass101 Would Be the Perfect New Year’s Gift to Yourself!

If you are unsure how to celebrate the New Year, why not give yourself a huge gift, and enroll to learn Cantonese! With more than 12 years of experience behind us, we know that CantoneseClass101 would be the perfect fit for you. There are so many reasons for this!

Learning Paths

  • Custom-tailored Learning Paths: Start learning Cantonese at the level that you are. We have numerous Learning Pathways, and we tailor them just for you based on your goals and interests! What a boon!
  • Marked Progress and Fresh Learning Material Every Week: We make new lessons available every week, with an option to track your progress. Topics are culturally appropriate and useful, such as “Learning how to deliver negative answers politely to a business partner.” Our aim is to equip you with Cantonese that makes sense!
  • Multiple Learning Tools: Learn in fun, easy ways with resources such 1,000+ video and audio lessons, flashcards, detailed PDF downloads, and mobile apps suitable for multiple devices!
  • Fast Track Learning Option: If you’re serious about fast-tracking your learning, Premium Plus would be the perfect way to go! Enjoy perks such as personalised lessons with ongoing guidance from your own, native-speaking teacher, and one-on-one learning on your mobile app! You will not be alone in your learning. Weekly assignments with non-stop feedback, answers and corrections will ensure speedy progress.
  • Fun and Easy: Keeping the lessons fun and easy-to-learn is our aim, so you will stay motivated by your progress!

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There’s no reason not to go big in 2018 by learning Cantonese with CantoneseClass101. Just imagine how the world can open up for you!

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Cantonese

How to Say Merry Christmas in Cantonese

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Cantonese? CantoneseClass101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of Cantonese Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native Cantonese speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, CantoneseClass101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Cantonese!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Hong Kong
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How CantoneseClass101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in Hong Kong

Christmas Words in Cantonese

Let’s see how Hong Kong people celebrate Christmas!

Now, before we go into more detail, I’ve got a question for you-

Can you guess how much a Christmas dinner usually costs at a hotel in Hong Kong?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep reading!

Hong Kong has a nice Christmas atmosphere, with everyone busy getting ready for all kinds of parties. At these parties, as is typical of Christmas celebrations in most cultures, gifts are exchanged. Exchanging gifts is 交換禮物 in Cantonese. Everyone has to go shopping for gifts beforehand to have something to exchange. All the shops in town have bargain sales, or 減價, to encourage people to buy more than they need to increase profits.

Do you know which places in Hong Kong are most popular and beautifully decorated during the Christmas season? The most popular places are Harbour City, 1881 Heritage, and the Peninsula Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui; Times Square in Causeway Bay; the Statue Square in Central; and Hong Kong Disneyland on Lantau Island.

Many buildings and skyscrapers next to Victoria Harbour put up Christmas light displays, or 燈飾 in Cantonese. If you want to see the light displays, ride the Star Ferry or 天星小輪 in Cantonese, and see the marvelous night-time scenery on both sides of the harbor.

The biggest difference between Christmas in Hong Kong and in Western countries is the Christmas dinner. Rather than enjoying it at home, most people in Hong Kong eat at restaurants and hotels, or have food catered in. Catering is 到會 in Cantonese. All the restaurants and hotels promote set menus or buffet services with Christmas themes. These meals are called 聖誕大餐. It’s very difficult to get a seat if you don’t make a reservation weeks in advance.

It never snows in Hong Kong, so some shopping malls provide fake snow, fake snowmen, and icy displays to fabricate a Christmas environment to attract customers. Because of the hot weather, there are no outdoor ice-skating rinks in Hong Kong, but you can find several indoor ice rinks. In Cantonese, ice rinks are called 溜冰場. Those who want to enjoy Christmas on ice can visit these spots.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

Do you know how much a Christmas dinner usually costs at a hotel in Hong Kong?
The average cost for Christmas dinner at a hotel in Hong Kong is 650 Hong Kong dollars per person, which is roughly 85 US Dollars.

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!

sing3 daan3 faai3 lok6!

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Cantonese? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

fun1 zaat3 zit3 faai3 lok6!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

san1 nin4 faai3 lok6!

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

gwong1 ming4 zit3 faai3 lok6!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

hei1 mong6 nei5 jau5 jat1 go3 hou2 hou2 ge3 hon4 gaa3!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

haa6 nin2 gin3!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

溫馨嘅祝福! 溫馨嘅祝福!
wan1 hing1 ge3 zuk1 fuk1!

An informal, friendly phrase to write in Cantonese Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

gaa3 kei4 jyu6 faai3!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in Cantonese, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

hoeng2 sau6 nei5 ge3 gaa3 kei4!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in Cantonese, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

zuk1 nei5 hai2 san1 ge3 jat1 nin4 maan6 si6 jyu4 ji3!

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in Cantonese! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At CantoneseClass101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

sing3 daan3 zit3

This is the Cantonese word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in Cantonese will include this word!

2- Snow


In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

syut3 faa1

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

雪人 (n)
syut3 jan4

As you guessed - a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey

fo2 gai1

Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

faa1 hyun1

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

hung4 bei6 seon4 luk2 lou5 dou6 fu1

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

sing3 daan3 lou5 jan4

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf

siu2 zing1 ling4

An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

hung4 bei6 seon4 luk2 lou5 dou6 fu1

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

bak1 gik6

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

syut3 hiu1

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present

lai5 mat6

Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell


On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

jin1 tung1

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace

fo2 lou4

In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

sing3 daan3 jat6

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

zong1 sik1

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking

sing3 daan3 mat6

According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly

dung1 cing1

Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

goeng1 beng2 uk1

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

si6 dik1 tong2

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe

huk6 gei3 sang1

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Cantonese, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in Cantonese! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

6. CantoneseClass101 Is One Of The Best Online Language Schools Available!

Visit CantoneseClass101!

We don’t just say this - we can prove it! Geared to your personal needs and goals, we have several learning paths from which to choose. From Cantonese for Absolute Beginners to Advanced Cantonese, lessons are designed to meet you where you are, and increase your language abilities in fun, easy and interactive lessons! Mastering a new language has never been this easy or enjoyable.

We have over a decade of experience and research behind us, and it shows! With thousands of audio and video lessons, detailed PDF lessons and notes, as well as friendly, knowledgeable hosts, CantoneseClass101 is simply unbeatable when it comes to learning correct Cantonese. Plenty of tools and resources are available when you study with us. New lessons are added every week so material remains fresh and relevant. You also have the option to upgrade and enjoy even more personalised guidance and services. This is a sure way to fast-track your learning!

So, this Christmas, why don’t you give yourself a present and enroll in CantoneseClass101? Or give an enrollment as a present to a loved one. It will be a gift with benefits for a whole lifetime, not just over Christmas!